Take good care of your cervix: Did you remember your cell scraping?
Author: Emma Libner
If your CPR number ends in an even number, you may have seen it before. The invitation to screening for cell changes, which regularly lands in the e-box of all 23-64-year-old women. But what exactly are cell changes? And how should you react if you have first detected changes in the cells on the cervix?
In this article, we take a look at what it means to be diagnosed with cell changes and what you can do to take the best possible care of your beloved cervix (spoiler: cell changes are not as scary and mysterious as they sound!).
Say hello to your cervix
When the doctor examines for cell changes, he looks at the area of the cervix, which is also called the cervix. The cervix is the narrow part of your uterus, and at the bottom of it is the cervix. Seen from below, it looks like a small donut with a hole in the middle. It is from here that the blood flows out when you menstruate, and also here that sperm can pass through and further up to the uterus if you have sex during your ovulation and do not use contraception to prevent pregnancy.
The area where the cervix meets is also called a transitional mucosa, and here you can be particularly vulnerable to cell changes. When the cells in the mucous membrane change appearance - regardless of the reason - it is referred to as cell changes. Under a microscope, these cells will look abnormal compared to the other cells of the mucosa. The changes are divided into degrees of difficulty from easy to difficult.
Many cell changes are often the result of a harmless inflammatory condition in the mucous membrane, which goes away on its own again, but they can also be the result of precursors to cancer caused by HPV, which is a type of virus that is transmitted through sexual contact. Therefore, in Denmark, since 2006, we have had a nationwide screening offer, which has been set up to detect and treat cell changes before they risk developing into cancer.
Cell changes are not dangerous in themselves
In practice, the screening offer is simply a visit to the doctor for a gynecological examination, where you lie on the couch while the doctor brushes - or scrapes - the surface of your mucous membrane at the bottom of the cervix with a small brush to collect cells that can be sent for microscopic examination . The cell scraping itself - or the smear test, as it is also called - is quickly over, and most people don't notice much about it. Maybe a little level. However, a little spotting can occur, so a panty insert in the bag or putting on your Flows from the morning can be quite nice.
If your doctor mentions the word "cell changes" after the cell scraping, do not be afraid or panic. In fact, approximately 15,000 women in this country are diagnosed with cell changes each year. "Only" a little under half of them - approximately 6,000 - end up being sent on for treatment for pre-stages of cervical cancer. However, we know from research that only approximately one percent of all mild cell changes develop into cancer, while the same applies to between 5 and 15 percent of cases with severe cell changes.
Regular screening reduces the risk of cancer
When more people are sent on for check-ups or for treatment, it is because it is not possible to say in advance which cell changes will develop and become cancer. Both HPV infection and cell changes can go away on their own, but once they have developed into cancer, the disease cannot go away on its own. That is why it is SO important that you go to your cell scraper when the invitation lands in e-Boks. It really is a "no biggie" to have the scraping done, it literally takes seconds from the time you lie on the bed all in all, and studies show that regular screening for cell changes reduces the risk of developing cervical cancer by up to 90 percent.
It may seem a bit of a hassle to have to see the doctor at regular intervals over a long period of years. But conversely, think that we have a form of cancer that we can largely prevent with the help of a simple smear test!
So take good care of yourself and your cervix <3
PS: If you have already been vaccinated against HPV, you should still be checked for cell changes. Although the HPV vaccine provides high protection against cervical cancer, it does not protect against all types of HPV that can cause cell changes and cancer in the cervix.